Protection from cell death in cultured human fetal pancreatic cells

G. M. Beattie, G. Leibowitz, A. D. Lopez, F. Levine, A. Hayek*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Endocrine cells from the human fetal pancreas will proliferate in vitro on extracellular matrix but lose hormone expression, and redifferentiation requires removal of the expanded cells from the matrix and reaggregation into cell aggregates. However, extensive cell death occurs during manipulation and culture. The mechanism of cell death was examined at each stage throughout the process under different experimental conditions to determine optimal protocols to increase cell viability. During shipment, the addition of trehalose to the media to prevent necrosis increased yield 17-fold, while during culture as islet-like cell clusters the apoptosis inhibitor Z-VAD increased yield 1.8-fold. Following disruption of cell-matrix interactions and reaggregation, there was marked evidence of apoptotic bodies by the TUNEL assay. Addition of nicotinamide or Z-VAD, or removal of arginine from the media during reaggregation, reduced the number of apoptotic bodies and the effect was additive. However, a combination of treatments was necessary to significantly increase the yield of viable cells. We conclude that cell death of human fetal pancreatic tissue in culture results from both necrosis and apoptosis and that understanding the mechanisms at the cellular level will lead to protocols that will improve cell viability and promote β-cell growth.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)431-438
Number of pages8
JournalCell Transplantation
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Apoptosis
  • Human fetal pancreas
  • Necrosis
  • Nicotinamide
  • Trehalose


Dive into the research topics of 'Protection from cell death in cultured human fetal pancreatic cells'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this